In form Dynamos striker Cuthbert Malajila has been called in to replace Knowledge Musona who has been ruled out of the must-win African Cup of Nations qualifier against Liberia at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Warriors’ manager Sharrif Mussa yesterday confirmed Musona was definitely out of the match after the striker failed to recover from a hamstring injury he sustained during a training session with his Germany club two and-half weeks ago.
Mussa said the Warriors technical team received Musona’s medical report from the Germany club yesterday confirming the striker will only be fit to play soccer in the second week of September.
“Basically, we are saying Musona cannot make it for Sunday’s match. We received his medical report this afternoon which was assessed by our team doctors who understand the terminology better. His type of injury cannot allow him to play until the second week of September. He is undergoing rehabilitation with his club at the moment. We had already brought in Cuthbert Malajila to start training with the rest of the players as we had our doubts on Musona’s availability. Malajila is an experienced player who has made a good comeback and we expect him to gel with his teammates,” said Mussa.
Malajila has been prolific since he rejoined Dynamos last month, scoring two goals for the Harare giants in three matches.
He trained with the rest of the squad at the National Sports Stadium B Arena on Tuesday.
All the South Africa-based players led by captain Method “Yellow” Mwanjali reported for the morning training session conducted under the watchful eye of coach Norman Mapeza and his assistant Joey Antipas.
France-based Ovidy Karuru was also part of the group while Belgium-based Vusa Nyoni was expected in the country yesterday evening.
Denmark-based Quincy Antipas and striker Edward Sadomba from Sudan, who now carries the country’s hopes in the absence of Musona, were also expected in the country later on Tuesday.
Mwanjali said the unavailability of the sure-footed Musona has naturally shaken the Warriors camp but believes there are other players who can do the job.
The situation is further compounded by the fact that Musona’s partner in the Warriors setup, Nyasha Mushekwi, is suspended for the make or break tie, but Mwanjali is still confident.
“The two are very talented players and good lads to work with, but they are not available and what do we do? We have to carry on with the job. This is a very crucial match for us where we need to get a result at any cost. We cannot continue to focus on the players that are not there, but to work with what is there. I want to believe all the players in camp are capable of doing the job on Sunday,” said the Mamelodi Sundowns defender.
The Mamelodi Sundowns captain added: “We don’t have a choice on Sunday but to win the match and pray that the result elsewhere goes in our favour. That alone gives us a little bit of pressure but that is natural if you are going for a big match like this. We have had two training sessions now and everyone is fighting for a place in the team, which is good. Morale is high in camp and we are looking forward to the game on Sunday.”
Zimbabwe lie third in Group A with five points after a single win, two draws and a loss against Mali.
The Warriors still have to go to Praia and play surprise log leaders Cape Verde (7 points) in the final group game scheduled for October.
A win by the Warriors and a loss by Mali against Liberia can guarantee Zimbabwe a place in the 2012 finals.
Mali are in second place with six points from the same number of matches while the Lone Star are bottom of the group with four points.
Only the group winners qualify for the finals to be held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea next year.
With the two host nations already guaranteed participation, there is also room for two best- placed runners-up.
Meanwhile, the Lone Star arrived in the country yesterday afternoon and went down to serious business as they held their first training session at Gwanzura Stadium last night.
Zimbabwe squad: Tapuwa Kapini, Marlon Jani, Washington Arubi, Method Mwanjali, Lincoln Zvasiya, Gilbert Mapemba, Tapiwa Kumbuyani, Daniel Vheremu, Qadr Amini, Vusa Nyoni, Tinashe Nengomasha, Khama Billiat, Willard Katsande, Quincy Antipas, Ovidy Karuru, Benjamin Marere, Charles Sibanda, Tafadzwa Rusike, Erick Mudzingwa, Archford Gutu, Simba Sithole, Knowledge Musona, Edward Sadomba.